Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe says he has already started discussions with players about returning to the team in 2021 after the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) season was cancelled on Tuesday.
The Giants saw their 2020-21 campaign shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has made playing an EIHL season impossible while restrictions are in place on fans attending games, leaving players without jobs for the next 12 months.
With those players now likely to head elsewhere, it would leave the Giants starting from scratch when putting together a roster for next year, a tough spot for Keefe and head of hockey operations Steve Thornton to be in.
But Keefe has confirmed that conversations have already been had with players about coming back when ice hockey hopefully resumes in August, with the aim of returning a core from this year's team.
"As much as we want to keep (the players) contracted to us, we also want them to play and earn a salary and continue to improve," said Keefe, who is also looking at potentially taking a position elsewhere just for one season.
"With the guys we had on two-year contracts, we'll sit down and talk to them about the future. We'd started some of (the conversations), but it's still sinking in for people right now."